Switchback Great Wall | Hikers following the unrestored Great Wall in Yanqing District.
Hikers following the unrestored Great Wall in Yanqing District.

Switchback Great Wall

Hike the Great Wall above Stone Valley Village, and continue up to the top towers near the ‘switchback’ section.

Level 4
Some steep climbs on the wall, and a short scramble up a broken section. 4–5 hours start to finish over approx. 9km (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

Contact us for schedule updates or set up a private hike

If you’ve done our Stone Valley Great Wall Loop hike or camping trip you will have already done about half of this hike. But why not join this trip to continue your exploration of the Great Wall in the area?

Exploring the Great Wall
Exploring the Great Wall. (Click for larger image)

The hiking trail

We begin with a quick stroll through Stone Valley Village, and then walk out into the fields in the valley behind the village. At the back of the fields we’ll find the dirt trail that leads up and over our first hill of the day. It's slightly steep in places, but we'll be up on top in about 30 minutes.

At the top of the hill we’ll step on to a line of much older wall – said to date back to the Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577) – that runs roughly along the ridge which is now the Beijing-Hebei border. What’s left of the that wall is a rough line of piled rocks, which makes for tricky walking in a few places. We’ve cut some side trails around the steepest parts, and from this part of the track you’ll have great views of the Ming wall and towers running along the next ridge over.

We’ll follow the Northern Qi Great Wall back to the Ming Dynasty-era wall, and then continue on the Ming wall up to the General’s Tower and farther along to a dip in the hills.

On shorter hikes we head down from this dip, but today we’re going to keep going up the wall.

The wall just past the dip is in bad condition, and there’s a tricky climb up a broken section.

The Great Wall then leads up to towers that are even higher up than the General’s Tower, and just after the highest point we’ll reach the switchback section, repaired in 2015 in a restoration project.

After taking a look at the switchback section, we’ll backtrack a little bit and then head down a long hill trail to finish the hike back at Stone Valley Village. (We’re not going to continue along the wall to finish because it takes us over on to the wrong side of the Beijing-Hebei border.)

COVID-19 and participation precautions

The current precautions are minimal. Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

Related content

Photos and trip reports: Switchback Great Wall

  1. Switchback Great Wall, 2023/10/28

    Switchback Great Wall, 2023/10/28

    See a set of 16 shots from a mid-autumn hike up to the ‘switchback’, a special spot where the wall makes a hairpin turn on a bluff.
  2. Switchback Great Wall, 2023/09/30

    Switchback Great Wall, 2023/09/30

    We saw the start of the autumn colours high up in the hills on this walk along ‘wild’ Great Wall—see nineteen photos from the hike.
  3. Switchback Great Wall, 2021/06/02

    Switchback Great Wall, 2021/06/02

    On this hike we did the Stone Valley Great Wall trail and then added on a serious amount of stairclimbing to get up to the top section of the Great Wall here—see 23 photos from the Great Wall surrounded by green.
  4. Switchback Great Wall, 2020/11/21

    Switchback Great Wall, 2020/11/21

    Snow was falling as we started this hike, and it was still falling as we finished a fun – but tricky! – hike up to the Switchback Great Wall—see 22 photos.
  5. Switchback Great Wall, 2016/06/18

    Switchback Great Wall, 2016/06/18

    Photos from a long hike along a rough but pretty line of Great Wall in Beijing’s northwest—half recently repaired, the other half unrestored and wild.

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